An Introduction to the World of Profitable Golf Betting
Golf betting is a betting area, which has been growing remarkably in popularity over recent times. Online betting exchanges and the general growth in online betting have played their roles in fuelling the growth. Matched bets on Betfair alone in the outright winner market on both European and USPGA tournaments each week, exceed one million dollars. Punters also can now not only back players as one would do with a bookmaker but also lay players they believe will perform below market expectations.
Personally, golf is one of my favourite sports for betting for two main reasons:
I have enjoyed great success betting on the golf for quite some time. The bank account is proof enough to me personally, that there is great money to be had, IF punters are willing to put in the time and effort. You will discover shortly, why it is, that golf lends itself to profitable betting. Money is not the only motivation however.
- I love the game, which makes the business of betting on the golf that much easier, as generally, it is not a chore to do the great amount of work required to get the results.
In my opinion, golf is, by far, one of the best sports for betting.
There are simply so many opportunities to find value especially in the player match bets, which we will cover in a later part of this betting series.
A golf tournament is played over four days (with the occasional exception of a three round tournament) with many swings in the betting odds along the way, meaning golf is a great sport for trading the prices. You may like to lock in guaranteed profits or you may like to simply take ‘insurance’, which we will cover further in this series of articles.
I am not sure why it is that many golfers are natural punters. Those who play golf themselves would be well aware of this. Many a social game has easily turned into a spirited game of ‘skins’.
This series of articles are not intented to be used as a definitive guide to golf betting. In saying that though, I am sure it will help with your golf betting; even if it is only something you read in this series which sparks a totally new and original approach. Detailed in this series are the opinions and techniques that I have used to provide me with some very nice steady profits.
Handicapping golf is a sport, which is really unlike any other. It is not necessarily an advantage for a punter who is new to golf betting to be a golfer themselves. It can be argued that a punter who has no pre-conceived concepts of the game of golf will not have to break any false beliefs. Club golf is naturally 100% different from professional golf.
For those who are new to the game, or for those who are unfamiliar with the professional golf tours, below serves as an overview of the game at the professional level.
The professional golf tours are basically an all year event. There is a break of some six weeks over the Christmas period for the two main tours in the world, the European Tour and the USPGA Tour. Even though the two tours do take brief breaks over the Christmas period, there is no shortage of golf for betting over this period.
As mentioned above, there are two main golf tours throughout the world: the European Tour and the USPGA Tour. As the names imply, the USPGA tour is the American tour and European tour is naturally played throughout Europe. There are a number of other golf tours throughout the world, which basically, may be thought of as the ‘reserves’ or the ‘seconds’. Examples include the Japanese tour, the Australasia tour and the Nationwide Tour. There also are the ladies tour (LPGA) and the Champions Tour for players over the age of 50. Personally, I really look at the two main tours only, because I do not have the time to look at the other tours, and there are far fewer bookies offering prices on these tours, which generally means that the bookies are offering less competitive prices, and generally, will have low maximum bets.
During the season, there will be an event a week for each of the tours with only a few exceptions. Therefore, I look at both the European and the American (or USPGA tour), each week, for betting possibilities. Each tournament will start on Thursday (with a few exceptions), going through the four rounds with the final round ending on Sunday.
A couple of things worth knowing:
The Cut: After the first two rounds, there is the ‘cut’, where the top performing half of the field at that point, will play the final two rounds. On average, there are 140 – 150 players who will commence each tournament. Players who after two rounds finish tied for 70th or lower, will make the cut. The exact number of players who play the third and fourth rounds is never known exactly as it depends on how many are tied for 70th.
Tee Times: The players are allocated times at which they will tee off on the first two days. They play in groups of three for the first two rounds, and for those who make the cut to play in the last two rounds, they will be in pairs.
Basically, the field is split into morning and afternoon tee times. For example, if a player tees off in the morning on the first day, he will be allocated an afternoon tee time on the second day. After the first two rounds, where approximately half the field will be cut, the tee times for the third and fourth rounds are allocated according to the player’s position on the leaderboard. As a result, the players now are paired with players who are in very similar positions on the leaderboard.
If there are three players on the same score, they will be paired with two players who scored the lowest in the previous round. The players lagging down the bottom of the field, will tee off first with the leaders teeing off last.
Other events: Throughout the golf season, there are a number of events which are a little different from the above format. For example, there are ‘match-play’ events, where players are paired together, with the aim of beating their opponents over one round, with the winner progressing to the next round. They are then paired again with another opponent, with the winner once again going through to the next round, until there are only the two players left to shoot it out.
Psychology: Although psychology plays a very important role in any sport, it is especially true in golf. A golfer with personal problems could spell disaster. These days, it is rare for a professional golfer not to consult with a professional sports psychologist on a regular basis.
Statistics: One resource, which I believe you must get your hands on if you can afford it, is a book by the name of Elliott’s Golf Form. No, I am no relation to the author Keith Elliott.
The publication is an annual publication and is a like a brick full of thousands of valuable statistics, reviews of past tournaments, detailed player profiles and many more golden gems of information. All the praise I can give this fine publication will still not do it justice. If you are to bet on golf and can afford the book (around 30 pounds), then you must get your hands on a copy!
The aforementioned is a brief account of how a golf tournament is played to find the eventual winner. Golf appeals to many punters, purely because of the fact, that it is possible for punters to back contestants, at big odds, who present really good chances of playing well. Anything under 100/1 is generally considered in the market, unlike a horse race, where anything above 20/1 has very little chance. The favourite in a golf tournament quite often is priced at 10/1 or even longer in the betting.
As in any sport, the aim is clear and unambiguous! We are playing the betting game to make money! Regardless of which sport you choose to focus on, there is only one thing you must do to become exceedingly successful, and of course profitable,you must back players at odds greater than their true chances of winning.
That’s it! Do that consistently and you WILL turn a profit. The difficult part is assessing the prices; pitting your judgement against the other punters and bookmakers; and making informed skilled decisions. Hopefully, this series of articles will help you on your way to becoming a highly successful and intelligent golf punter.
Player Specific Factors
Now that we have covered the basics of the golf tournament, we now need to choose our winners.
The following are golf betting tips specifically looking at the players in the tournaments. In the next article, we will look more at the general betting situations, which arise time and time again, and then, we will look at golf trading techniques in Part Four. Some of these handicapping factors, which will lay the foundations, are fairly obvious, and others, which can help gain an edge, are more subtle. If nothing else, I hope the ideas, which are presented below, spark an idea of your own.
Recent Player Form
It is fitting that we should start with perhaps the most important and fundamental area of golf betting. We should be supporting any player, who is playing a confident game, striking the ball well, and are figuring in the finish. Good recent form, not only indicates that the player obviously is in good touch and playing well, it also indicates that the player is playing with a good deal of confidence, and this is important.
We do not want to be supporting a player who appears to have lost touch momentarily. He will play erratically, and as a result of the doubting, often will leave putts short. The European player, Lee Westwood, is a classic example. Undisputedly, he is a class player and on his day can and will give any player a run for his money. However, Westwood is a player who, when the chips are down and he is not playing well, may be relied upon to continue his poor form, more often than not. He really is a confidence player. In 2004 he recorded a very poor year. By comparison, David Duval was the world number one in 1999, but by the end of 2004, amazingly, he had slipped to a world ranking of 528!
Apart from avoiding players who display signs of playing with little or no confidence, we can make good money, by laying them on a betting exchange, or another option is to oppose the player in a match-bet, which we will discuss a little later.
There is little difference between the world’s top golfers, and if a player has a little more confidence on the day, then he will have a decided edge on the others. He will be banging the putts into the backs of the holes, while others will be trying to coax them in, ever so tentatively.
Past Tournament Form
Another of the standard fundamental aspects of golf handicapping is to look closely at the past player form for a particular tournament. Many players consistently perform well in the same tournament year after year. There could be many reasons why this is the case. However, from a betting viewpoint, it is suffice to know, that a player does play well in this or that particular tournament, without knowing the reasons. Sometimes, there may not be an intelligent reason why the player may play well. However, we cannot discount the fact that some players actually do play well in some particular tournaments, whatever the reason may be.
Possibly these players are playing on their home courses, living only a stone’s throw from the course; possibly the course suits the player’s style of play; or possibly the player simply is confident in the event, because of a forward showing in previous years at the course.
Sometimes the reason is not clear. However, the main factor is to discover that they do play well on their respective courses. Good form in the event, and good recent form, are the two most fundamental and obvious form factors.
Back the Proven Players
Seek players who have proven abilities to win on particular tours, that is, the European or USPGA tours, in question. If a player has been playing one of the tours for five to ten years and has not broken through for a win, you can count on those players to do more of the same.
Basically, one of the most fundamental of all punting principles is to discover past occurrences, and to forecast more of the same for the future. No matter how close they may get to winning, the fact of the matter is that they do not win. That is the big difference! It is very easy to be sucked into a bet, if a player has been placing himself into contention in recent tournaments. This type of player tends to have a bad habit of decimating your betting bank! Of course, it depends on the price on offer. However, this is something that I personally and carefully note. Class and proven ability to win, counts for more, than a lot of punters may believe.
Changes in Swing, Equipment or Caddy
The smallest changes to a golfer, his swing, equipment, caddy or even the ball that he uses can make a dramatic difference in the player’s form, whether that be good or bad form. As we have mentioned before, there really is very little between competitors at this level. Any one of these changes may have either a positive or negative effect, depending on the circumstances, and the player involved. However, I for one would be very wary of supporting a player after a recent change. In saying that, I would not be game to lay the player, preferring to wait until the player in question has played a small number of tournaments, after which it would become more obvious, whether the change is a positive or negative one.
We find that some players will change their equipment to suit the course of an upcoming major. This is exactly what Phil Mickelson did, before he won his first major in 2004, the US Masters. Some of the top players will play below their standards, in the lead up events, as they come to grips with new equipment as they prepare for a major tournament.
Players with Personal or Injury Concerns
This area could be a bit of a trap, or sometimes, an opportunity, depending on which way we look at the problem. When news slips out about a player experiencing personal problems or injuries, for example, splitting with his wife (as per Colin Montgomerie in 2004), we should be extremely careful not act impetuously by laying the player on a betting exchange. Common sense might suggest this to be the best course of action. However, past similar situations have proven to be quite different! An example of this is Stuart Appleby when defending his title in the Mercedes Championship in 2005. The week before the tournament he was struggling to work let alone practice due to a leg injury. He flew into Hawaii with only a day and a half to spare but not only that, his wife Ashlea was due to give birth the following week. Plenty on his mind but yet he came out and successfully defended his title
Often, it will appear that due to any number of reasons, the player might seem to be at a disadvantage, especially considering the importance player mindset and player psychology have in golf. However, often you will find that in spite of all this, the player will go out and shoot a low score! This puzzled me for some time, and cost me a good deal of money, before I realised that players with concerns are generally more relaxed initially, as strange as that may sound. Their minds are quite often elsewhere. For example, they may be thinking more about their throbbing thumb or tooth ache, rather than their game, and because of these relaxed attitudes, they play exceedingly well! Many a player in a post round interview will be heard talking about the above phenomena, I suppose it could be called.
In short, be careful in these situations! If you believe the betting market has over-reacted to the news, and the price has blown harder then an Irish gale, then chances are that you could have a good bet on your hands. However, we still are not too sure how the individual player will react to the personal problems or injury concerns. This becomes an intelligent ‘gamble’ due to the inflated odds. I have learnt my lesson a couple of times now, laying such players. After reading this, I hope you don’t do the same!
Player Tournament Schedules
Many professional players now have their very own websites. If a player does have a website, you will be able to find his website address on both the PGA Tour and the European Tour websites.
It is interesting to note how each player will plan his year. Throughout the year, always ask yourself why players are playing in certain tournaments. Although the majority of the time, there is nothing in the decision, thinking this way can often provide a good lead into the individual player’s thinking. Many players will play solely on either the European or USPGA Tours. However, others will travel between the tours spending a lot of time on each throughout the year.
For example, if a player travels to the other side of the world to play a relatively low prize money tournament, in which he has not played before, and not only that, but he may be giving up another tournament, in which he has played well in the past, we would have to speculate why this would be. If there is more or less prize money, does the player need to play the event to qualify on a tour? (Each player has to play a certain number of tournaments each year). If the player has played in the event before, is the player coming across to give himself a warm-up to a larger tournament the following week? A little investigative work can help no end in delving into the thought process of a professional golfer.
Players Missing Cut Deliberately
This one may be said to be a little controversial. However, I believe I have seen this occur on a number of occasions now and it is something to watch out for. A top player plays in an event, for example, on the European tour, and the next week, he has a large tournament in America.
Now, I am not suggesting that from day one, the player intends to perform poorly. However, if the player does happen to play a poor first round, we need to put ourselves in his shoes. He can try to make the cut, even at that early stage in the tournament, he may believe that he is too far off the pace to get back into serious contention. Possibly an option, is to play an average game, miss the cut, pack his bags, head to the venue of the larger tournament, and have an extra two days to get to know the course. I am not going to name any names as an example, but this thinking has proven profitable for me in the past. Perhaps it is just luck? However, if a punter speculated, that a player ensures he misses the cut, after a poor first round, the punter could make good money by opposing the player in an 18 hole match bet, as the price of the player to win the tournament would, more than likely, be too long to lay.
Suit the Conditions to the Player
As a very general rule, the European based players perform betting in blustery or rain affected tournaments then their American counterparts. If we find a European based player, playing in America in such conditions, he requires a little extra consideration. The European links type courses, coupled with the typical weather conditions of Europe, result in the European players becoming very adept at playing in poor conditions. Elliott’s Golf Form provides an indication of which players play especially well in such conditions, and this information can be very handy to know.
Following on from the last point, give careful consideration to course compatibility. Generally, the European players play the links type courses well, and as a very general observation, the US players play the heavy, tree-lined courses well. Take note of the type of course, because this is where it helps to look at player and course statistics to form an opinion of whether a player will be suited to the course, or not.
When looking at statistics, be careful. Statistics can and do lie! A book could be written on player/course statistics, and how to use such statistics in golf betting. As I don’t believe anyone would want to read a book on player statistics, I will only mention some general pointers. I would urge you to take the time to think hard about each statistic, and how it may be applied to the tournament and the player in question. There are around one hundred different statistics, which one may pore over, in an attempt to provide an edge. However, just because there are around one hundred statistics available, that does not mean, that we have to look at them all; far from it. It will, more than likely, simply confuse the issue by looking at too many. There are many more commonsense type pointers, which should be focused upon, primarily helping to handicap a sporting event.
An example of how statistics may be confusing, and could lead a punter up the wrong path is as follows: assume we are studying a tournament, which is to be played on a long course with four par fives, and a par of 73. Commonsense would suggest that we should be looking for a player who has a good long game. Interestingly, this is not necessarily the case. If the par fives can not be reached in two (bunker/water placement for example), then chances are, that the long hitters may not be advantaged at all! In this case, it does not really matter if a player is a long hitter, as everyone will be laying up for a shortish iron third shot to the green. In this case, I would be looking more at the players who have a good iron game, which may see them setting up putts for birdies.
As another example, one of the main punting traps is looking at a tournament that historically, has shown to favour players who are good on the green. The first thought, naturally, is to look at players with low putts per round figures. Herein lies the problem. Putts per round is not a truly accurate measure of how good a putter, a player is. If a player has poor’Greens In Regulation’ statistics, and a low putts per round, this is telling us that the player doesn’t hit the green in regulation, but is good around the greens.
Therefore, as stated above, the real key is to simply have a clear head, when looking at the statistics of the players. Often, the players’ indicators, which are suited to the course can subtly shine through in the form of the player statistics.
Both the European tour website and the PGA Tour website have excellent statistics sections for you to browse through.
Take note of players who are playing in their home states, or on their home courses. As in a vast majority of sports, the home ground advantage provides a significant advantage. The player would know the course intimately, and have great course management knowing the best way to play each hole. Also, they generally will be more confident, once more increasing their chances of good results.
That sums up this part in the series on player specific factors, next we will move on to discover some more general betting situations.
General Golf Betting Situations
Now that we have provided a general overview of golf betting, and have covered a number of points relating directly to the players, we will now move on to more general betting situations and general golf betting tips.
Although not specific to golf, I had to throw this one in as it is just so important. Those who know, would be aware, that I am continuously bleating on about the importance of keeping records. I will not go on here, as I am sure you have heard it all before, and do not particularly want to hear it again. Do yourself a big favour though, and set up a spreadsheet to track every golf bet you make! Do not say you will – actually do it!
Access Good Information
You will find it very difficult to become a consistent winner, if you have not got your hands on quality information. Information need not cost a fortune. One of the must haves for any half serious golf punter is a book titled ‘Elliott’s Golf Form’ and is available from on bookstore
The book is an annual publication and gives detailed player profiles, and detailed descriptions of every tournament played on both the European and USPGA tours the previous year. Some great statistics, and generally speaking, is just a brilliant tool for any golf punter to possess.
Aside from the use of Elliott’s Golf Form, there are numerous excellent websites, on which to find the latest on the players and upcoming tournaments. For the European Tour, go to www.europeantour.com and for the USPGA Tour go to www.pgatour.com
Take the Best Price on Your Selections
Regardless of which sport you are betting, all punters should seek always to find the best prices possible. Consider holding three different accounts, which will help you to find a good price. I would suggest two bookmakers’ accounts and an account with Betfair. Each week, compare the prices between the bookmakers, with which you hold accounts and Betfair, and take the best available.
One bookmaker which you must have an account with is Pinnacle Sports. They opperate on the lowest margins for golf match bets out of any of the other bookies. A real must have account!
If you have a number of accounts, consider using an odds comparison service to identify where you may be able to find the best price on your selection. A couple of good odds comparison services are Betbrain, Oddschecker and Sports Punter. Odds comparison services provide a comparison with a good number of (sometimes up to 60) different bookmakers, on the one event. Odds comparison services are very handy resources.
Support the Leading Groups
Take note that the last group (the two leaders) to play on the fourth day, are at an advantage, excluding of course, poor weather conditions. It is these players who know the scores they have to beat. If they hold a one shot lead on the ‘clubhouse leader’, then they know, that they just need to play very conservatively to win the tournament. Conversely, if they are a shot or two back, they know that they have to play aggressively, and shoot for the pin to make up ground.
Players Getting On
Do not be afraid to back players who are getting on in age IF they have a proven record of winning on the tour. We certainly do not want to be chasing a player still holding out for a win after ten years on the tour!
The age of technological advancement certainly has not escaped golf. As a result of recent advancement, the gap has closed in driving distances, for instance. Although, generally speaking, the younger players still hit the balls further, the older players are not all that far behind. The gap has closed, to some extent, between the bigger hitters and the rest of the field, but the advantage is not as great as it used to be.
Beware of players who, towards the end of the year are fighting to keep their tour cards. Generally, the added pressure to play well, will be a definite negative for the player.
Backing Multiple Players
As touched on in the introduction, one of the toughest aspects of golf betting is the fact, that we have so many players in each tournament, and that it is very possible to encounter long losing runs.
It is not uncommon for the favourite to be at odds of 10.0 – 20.0 in the betting. Even if a punter is a great golf handicapper, it is very possible to go extended periods without adding to the betting bank. Unlike a horse race, where there may be between 8 – 20 runners; or a tennis game, where there may be a choice of only two players to win (unless you are betting in the tournament winner market); with golf betting, there are some 140 players competing.
Of course, it is fun to go for the big win, but the yearly profits could be relying on the one big win, which is very nerve racking. Also, confidence could be lost in the approach, through not finding the winners, or becoming frustrated by the selected players continually finishing close to the winner, at decimal odds of 101.0 or so. This is a problem that must be overcome. There are a number of ways to reduce the wild bankroll fluctuations, such as, each way betting, betting player match-ups, trading on betting exchanges during tournaments, place betting etc. In the Golf Betting Guide Part Five, we discuss the different available bet types, which is one way to reduce bankroll fluctuations.
Another clever way, in which to reduce fluctuations, is to ‘dutch’ bet a number of players in each tournament. By that, I mean, simply back a number of players. Due to the nature of a golf betting market, quite often, I will back ten players to win a golf tournament. I calculate the bets so that it does not matter which one of my ten bets is successful, I will win the same amount of money. We will outlay more money on the selections, which are shorter in the market, and outlay less money on the players, who are at greater odds. I use a computer program, which we developed for this purpose, to calculate the required answers. You well may have heard of dutch betting, and you already may be using this betting method yourself.
In the Masters of 2005, before the start of the tournament you may like . . .
1. Phil Mickelson @ 10.0 ($33.70) – 337.00
2. Davis Love III @ 36.0 ($9.36) – 336.96
3. Retief Goosen @ 20.0 ($16.85) – 337.00
4. Sergio Garcia @ 22.0 ($15.32) – 337.04
5. Darren Clarke @ 44.0 ($7.66) – 337.04
6. Stuart Appleby @ 70.0 ($4.81) – 336.70
7. Stewart Cink @ 70.0 ($4.81) – 336.70
8. Charles Howell III @ 90.0 ($3.74) – 336.60
9. Scott Verplank @ 90.0 ($3.74) – 336.60
We have backed nine players to win the event. If we were considering a total outlay of $100 on the tournament, then we would bet the above amounts (in brackets) on each of the players. Now, if we were to place our bets with a bookmaker, rather than a betting exchange, we would need to round the bet amounts on each of the players. For this example, we will use the exact figures. Therefore, whichever player wins, we will collect approximately $336.98 for a net profit average of $236.98 or a 237% profit.
Another way to structure bets, is to use ‘savers’ on players, who may be considered as threats, but we are not overly confident. If a player is backed as a saver, and wins, then we will win the total amount we have outlayed on the event. For example, we may believe that both Mickelson and Goosen have been in poor form leading up to the event. However, they are both class players, who should be in contention right to the end. We then could structure our bets as follows:
1. Phil Mickelson @ 10.00 ($10.00) [SAVER] 100.00
2. Davis Love III @ 36.00 ($16.09) 579.24
3. Sergio Garcia @ 22.00 ($26.33) 579.26
4. Darren Clarke @ 44.00 ($13.16) 579.04
5. Stuart Appleby @ 70.00 ($8.27) 578.90
6. Stewart Cink @ 70.00 ($8.27) 578.90
7. Charles Howell III @ 90.00 ($6.44) 579.60
8. Retief Goosen @ 20.00 ($5.00) [SAVER] 100.00
9. Scott Verplank @ 90.00 ($6.44) 579.60
If Goosen or Mickelson win the tournament, the return would be $100, and thus, we would break even. However, if one of the other players wins the event, then our profit would be $479.20! An extra $242.22.
Dutch betting really makes sense in golf tournaments. It is a great way of reducing bankroll fluctuations. You will pick up more collects, which will not only keep you in the game, but will increase confidence in your selections.
Relative Field Strength
The relative field strength is a factor, which must be considered in every tournament. The players in each tournament will change from week to week. One week, there will be Ian Poulter at odds of 51.0 to win an event, and the next week, he may be 11.0 favourite. You may use the order of merit (European Tour) and the Moneylist (US Tour) to provide a rough guide as to the quality of players entered. Obviously, the higher the players on the respective lists, generally, the better the player. You may also like to consult the player’s world ranking. This information is availabe here Official World Golf Ranking.
Field strength is vital in establishing if a particular player is value at a given price. It is quite easy to be persuaded into believing that a player is at massive odds, especially if he has been much shorter in recent times. Generally, in this case the field strength would have increased, which has resulted in the player’s price lengthening.
Sports Betting Golf Guide Part Four – Golf Betting Exchange Trading
In this article we look at some ideas, which may be used to trade the players on a betting exchange, rather than simply backing a player to win the tournament outright.
Golf Quick Starters
It’s important to note the first round tee times. By targeting a player, who has a habit of getting off to a strong start, money can be made y backing the player before the tournament begins, and then, laying off after the first round.
Elliott’s Golf Form is a great help to identify such players by studying the player’s first round scoring averages. (Another statistic, which you may like to note, is the player’s adjusted scoring average). Many players are predictable in how they play the four rounds. In general, players who begin with smart starts, coupled with a morning tee time, provide great opportunities to trade. Playing conditions in the morning are generally much better than the afternoon conditions. The greens are softer, and more importantly, the weather conditions are generally more forgiving.
Laying Players in Contention on a Betting Exchange
Similar to the above pointer, you can look towards the end of the third day of a tournament to attempt to isolate a player, who has proven in the past not to handle the pressure of the fourth round. Playing in the fourth round of a golf tournament is a different ball game from the first, because there is the added pressure on those at the top of the leader board. Intense media coverage in the country or state, in which the event is being played, may distract a player, causing a below par performance on the last day.
As with the previous pointer, this information is available by studying Elliott’s Golf Form. Some players are notorious for cracking under the pressure, and this means dollars in the bank for us! Conversely, other players revel in pressure situations, carding their best rounds on the last day. Further from this, certainly some players demonstrate that they play best coming off the pace to clinch a win (such as Stewart Cink who has shown that he is adept at storming home in the final round), and others, on the other hand, are good front runners.
Such trends can really result in gold mine situations for those golf punters, who can identify such trends in the different players. Golfers are reasonably consistent in this regard, leading to trading opportunities. This all may be discovered by studying past performances of the players, and will certainly help you in your golf betting.
Laying the Rougher Type Players
If your betting bank permits, laying players at decent odds (up to 70.0), before the first round, can provide good opportunities for profit in the long run. Naturally, you still have to do your homework, to give yourself every possible opportunity, to isolate a player performing poorly. With the rougher type players, even if they have a good first round or two (excluding a course record type score), the price of the player will not shorten to any great extent, in relation to the first or second round scores, as compared with a popular player who began with a good start. This is because punters still would not consider the player to be a genuine chance of winning the event.
Here, the idea is hoping the player(s) you have laid, begins with a poor start, and fingers crossed, misses the cut, meaning that you have an automatic winner. If, however, the player does get off to a reasonable start, you have the option (which is a wise one), to cut your losses, and back the player back locking in losses. If the players, you chose to lay, begin with poor starts, more times than not, you will be building your betting bank!
A word of warning though: after a few successful trades, do not fall into the trap of getting carried away and laying players indiscriminately, without studying the form. If you consider using this strategy, you must exercise discipline! You must cut your loses, if the player(s) you have laid, begins with a threatening start.
Golf Hole and Player Statistics In-Running
Player statistics, and in particular, hole statistics, are invaluable tools, if you are betting while the round is in-play. You will notice which holes it is possible to pick up a shot, and which holes it will be tough to simply make par. Naturally, some holes are tougher than others on a course. If a player has played the first six holes, which may be the toughest six holes on the course, and is one over, then there may be an opportunity to back the player, with the thinking, that if he is hitting the ball well, then he should pick up possibly three or four shots in the remaining 12 holes.
In the first, second and the third round, you can look back on the player’s performance over the holes in question to draw assumptions. You may find that particular player continually plays well on certain holes.
If you marry this analysis with the individual player’s statistics, then most definitely, you should be able to find a golf betting edge. For example, you may notice that the player has a great long game, which he can reach the par fives in two shots. You may assume that if the player has shot low on the par five holes in previous rounds on the course, and if he is playing well enough, then you may predict that the player might do the same again.
As another example, you may be on the third round leader. In the fourth round, as our player would be teeing off in the final group (since he is the leader), you may find that a couple of the players in the preceding groups begin with handy starts, shooting -2 through four or so holes. This may or may not be an excellent start, depending on the strengths of the players, and the types of holes that that they have played. If the first four holes are the easiest on the course, and are averaging well below their par throughout the tournament, then basically, you would expect the leaders to shoot low through these holes. This is extremely handy information for a golf punter who bets in-running.
Laying the First Round Leader on a Betting Exchange
Always consider laying (depending on your individual player form analysis that you have carried out) the first round leader, as it is mentally draining on a player to have to lead a tournament from start to finish.
Backing the Second and Third Round Leaders
This may seem slightly contradictory to the previous pointer, as one may assume that if it is difficult for a first round leader to lead throughout, it therefore, must be tough for a second or third round leader to hang on and finish off.
Strangely, the statistics don’t support this thinking. Second and third round leaders have an exceptional record of going on to win tournaments.
Live or Not So Live Golf Coverage?
Be very careful, if you have the intention of trading on Betfair, as the day’s play evolves. Although the idea of trading in and out of players, based on a good or bad shot, sounds good on the face of it, in practice, you have to tread warily; the reason being, that you are not the only one who is thinking of this.
Live coverage is rarely truly live, when it comes to the golf. At any one time, you may have up to 70 players on the course and naturally, many of those players would be taking their shots at the same time. The cameras will follow the leaders, who are scoring well, or the players back in the field. Shots are recorded, and are replayed as live coverage, when the time suits. Of course, the viewer sitting at home will not be aware of this, and that is where punters can fall into a trap, thinking they are watching live coverage.
The only way to beat the crowd is if you intend on capitalising on either good or poor shots is to be at the course following the players. You can either have a wireless device or simply a mobile phone to call through the bets to Betfair.
So unless you are at the actual course, please don’t attempt to capitalise on the events as they unfold on your television. Chances are that those punters on course have already moved the price on the betting exchange. You would not know, that it had already moved, unless you were to bring up the player’s trading history.
Now that the betting game has changed for ever (for the better), closing bets on an exchange has become very popular. It may be debated as to whether this, in theory, is the best way to play.
In theory, the answer to whether you should lay off a bet on a betting exchange depends on whether there is still some value left in your bet. For example, you backed a player at odds of 50.0, and he has now moved to become the second round leader and has shortened into 6.0. Now, the question is, should you lay the player to lock in profits, or to recover only the amount outlayed? If you believe that the 6.0 represents a good bet, then you should hold your bet and not lay off. If you believe this price is ‘under’, as the true price in your opinion is more like 10.0, then you should lay off.
In theory, this is the best way to attack the betting decision, rather than immediately taking your profit as so many punters will do.
In our betting exchange publication, Betting Exchange Secrets, we actually look closely at how there can be a mathematical advantage laying bets, if the price has moved in your favour.
Now admittedly, that is in theory, and that should be considered very closely. However, every situation is unique, and practically, this may not be your best option. Why, you might ask? A lot depends on an individual punter’s risk profile. Many punters are happy to collect smaller profits often, rather than a big collect very rarely.
If you are an emotional punter, then I would suggest that you take the money. I would not attack the mathematics of backing and laying on an exchange. We have written programs to perform the calculations, which is a bonus when purchasing The Insider’s Guide to Betting Exchange Secrets.
Apart from your personal risk profile, there is another major factor which you must consider and that is bankroll considerations. The idea being, that if you are working with a low bank, or if you have wagered more than possibly you should have, then by all means, lay off your bet, and take your profit.
Trading on the Weather
Always keep an eye on weather conditions. If the weather is relatively calm in the morning, but you notice conditions starting to deteriorate, consider laying a number of the favoured players, who have to battle the afternoon conditions. In this instance, if the weather does turn sour, then the players who played in the morning and are now in the club house, are at a distinct advantage. There may be a three or four shot difference between playing in the morning and playing in the afternoon, providing you with, at the very least, a trading opportunity.
Also, the opposite is true – if a strong blustery wind is starting to pass late in the morning, this leaves the afternoon more conducive to low scores. Consider laying the morning leaders with the expectation that the afternoon players will either, better the current ‘clubhouse leader’, or at the worst, tie with the leaders. Quite often, the early morning leaders are over-bet with punters forgetting that the afternoon players are still to have a hit.
If the tournament is heavily affected by adverse weather conditions, be aware that it is possible that an event may be shortened to a 54 hole tournament (over three days). This will have the effect of strongly advantaging the players leading at the time, since the players trailing do not have as long to make up ground.
Although there are a good number of very handy trading tips in the above list, it is not by any means the only trading factors, which you may consider in your golf betting. They will, however, give you a very solid platform from which work. Hopefully, from the above knowledge passed on, you will be able to find a winner or two, and even if you do not make a mint, we hope that it improves your betting exchange trading somewhat.
In the fifth and final instalment of this golf betting article series, we delve into the different bet types which the bookmakers offer and most importantly, how to make the best of them!
Getting the Best of Different Golf Bet Types
Now that you have a good idea of how to choose a golfer, who has a great chance of performing well, some super betting exchange trading tips, guidelines and some examples of good general betting situations, we now look at ways, in which we may bet our chosen players.
The first and the most obvious golf bet type is win betting, which is simply selecting a player to win the event in question. As discussed back in part one, golf betting lends itself to big priced winners through the pure nature of the sport on a professional level. There is surprisingly little separating the top twenty golfers in the world. One ten foot (three metres) putt, which should move four inches (ten centimetres) right to left, which continues straight could cost you a substantial collect. Basically, any price up to 81.0 – 101.0 may be thought of as ‘in the market’.
We have discussed the implications of the bigger priced winners and the difficulty of hitting winners with some regularity. We listed a number of different ways, in which to smooth out the ups and downs you will experience, betting the winner market including ‘dutch’ betting. Bet types where you can lower the odds of receiving a collect is a great way, in which to reduce the effects of bankroll fluctuations, and thus, save you a lot of heartache!
There are some great prices available in the win betting market for all of the events on the two major tours on Betfair. Always shop for the best price for your selections making use of an odds comparison service such as Sports Punter to guide you.
Win betting is a bet type, that if the luck does not flow your way, you may well find yourself encountering a very frustrating year of golf betting with top five finishes without selecting a winner.
Place only betting is a great option for targeting players, who consistently are close, without breaking through. A lot of the time, backing these types of runners, hoping they will break through often is not smart play. The big problem with this bet type is that many bookies do not even offer a place only market. You may have to ask for a quote on a player. Those who do set a place only book, generally offer poor prices. You may obtain an excellent idea of the price your place bet should be by taking 1/5 of the win odds (assuming we are betting with a bookie who offers top five betting).
For example, a golfer is quoted at decimal odds of 51.0 (fractional odds 50/1). To calculate the place dividend that you will be paid, simply take the fraction that you will receive (1/5 in this example) of the decimal odds minus 1 then plus one. Therefore, it would be: 51.0 – 1 = 50.0 x 1/5 = 10.0 +1 = the decimal place odds of 11.0.
Although we would be able to take this price for the place portion if we were betting each way, chances are we would not be betting into a place bet only market. If you believe that the player will perform indeed, and particularly begin with a good start, then consider taking the each way bet, with the sole intention of laying it off on an exchange. (Note – don’t forget to account for commission in your calculations).
Each Way Betting
Golf each way betting is similar to horse race betting. An each way bet is effectively two separate bets. Some like to think of the place portion of an each way bet as a type of insurance, as in, ‘if my horse/player/team doesn’t win, I will at least get my money back’. In theory, the degree to which this is correct may be debatable. In any case, each way golf betting can provide a great opportunity to hedge your bet.
Bookmakers treat each way bets quite a bit differently, depending on the bookmaker in question. Some bookmakers will pay the top four placegetters, while others will pay the top five. In rare occasions, as a special bet type, some bookies will even bet up to six placings. Also, they offer different payouts if you are to win a bet: ¼ the win odds or 1/5 the win odds.
You should become aware of your favoured bookmakers’ offers. Should you bet ¼ the win odds with a bookmaker, who pays top four only, or bet with a bookmaker who pays less at 1/5, but will pay top five. This is a tough one to answer because you will find that those who offer to pay out at the top five, will offer win odds, which are slightly less than the bookies offering the ¼ odds, which naturally means a lower place payout.
72 Hole Two Match Bets
This bet type is simply where the bookmaker will pair two players, who are very close in the market order in the win betting. You simply have to bet on which of the two players listed, will score lower over the four rounds of the tournament. There is the option for the draw to be offered in case the players should finish on the same score.
This bet type is where I focus a lot of my time. There are a few reasons for this, primarily, because it is the easiest bet type to beat in my opinion. ‘Easiest’ probably is not the best choice of words.
The reason is relatively simple. We now have a ‘two horse race’, as there are only two players, from which to choose. You will find that after careful analysis, you might not be backing one of the players, because you do not think he will play well enough, and therefore, you would back the other player, in the head to head contest.
In the past we have had excellent winning runs backing against particular players. One player, who sticks out is Lee Westwood. He is a class act and is as good as anyone on his day. However, when his confidence is shot, he is flat out struggling to make the cut, let alone be in contention on the last day. There was about seven weeks in a row there in 2004, where we really ‘loaded up’ on the opponent, simply because we believed we held such a big edge on such a bet. As Westwood is a very handy professional, he is always matched up with an opponent who has some class and can hold his own.
Another reason I just love the 72 hole two balls, is purely a bankroll factor. Due to reducing the bet down to two possible outcomes, with prices below odds of 2.0, we can expect to win at least 50% to make a profit, and thus, we have helped to solve the problem of bankroll fluctuations which we have discussed.
One of the small problems/opportunities (depending on which way you look at it), is the fact, that generally, aside from the favoured players, most bookmakers will have different players matched together. Generally up 50 different match-ups over different bookmakers. The favoured match-ups are offered by many bookmakers, possibly providing arbitrage opportunities.
What is great, is when we take a tournament match-bet and our player makes the cut, but the opponent does not, which means we have a winning ticket. Plenty of time for the good luck and bad luck to even itself out over the four rounds, so the true form/skill/class of the players can shine through. You only have to look at the two players not the whole field. The bookies do not spend as much time as they possibly should, because match-ups are not high profile markets, attracting large turnover. (The bookies pay a little more attention than they used to, but there still are great opportunities available for the skilled punter with this bet type.) Generally, they will base the player head-to-head prices on their respective prices for the players in the win market. It may be argued that this is not truly an accurate measure, simply because there are only two players in the bet, and they both have different skills, temperaments, tee times etc., which may not be reflected in the player’s outright golf betting odds.
18 hole Two, Three and Four Balls
Many bookies simply match together the playing groups and will offer a bet on who you believe will score the lowest in the group. I really have not been able to become interested in this form of betting. The thinking being, that in a golf game, anything can, and does, happen in just 18 holes, therefore, the element of ‘luck’ becomes a factor. If you bet on the two ball games, you will to understand what I mean.
In saying that, there can, of course, be exceptions to the rule, as in everything else. For example, there may be two players in an 18 hole match bet, and both are in contention. Quite often, the pressure of the fourth day may cause a player to falter. Your research may help identify such players, and as such, you could be lining yourself up with a smart bet, by betting against the player, who has a habit of failing to handle the pressure, and as a result, scores poorly on the final round.
At the time of writing, there was little liquidity on Betfair for bets of this nature.
Spread Betting Options
Now is not the time to go into the basic mechanics of spread betting. However, as far as golf is concerned, spread betting is another bet type, which is clearly growing in popularity. With spread betting, the amount, which you either win or lose, is dependant on how right or wrong you are with your predictions. There is a number of spread betting firms in operation, the biggest and most reputable of these, being Sporting IG, Spreadex, the Australian Sports Book Sports Acumen and now Betfair, in association with Cantor, have its own P2P spread betting platform, which is well worth a look in Spreadfair.
The main spread betting markets are 18 hole and 72 hole match bets as well as betting the finishing positions. If you are new to golf spread betting in the finishing positions market, note that if you like a player, you sell the player’s finishing position. In just about every other sport you would go the other way and buy. This is because the closer to first position, the more you make. For example, the spread may be 21 – 24 in the finishing positions market. The closer the player finishes to first, the more money you will make.
As in most forms of spread betting, the bias, which exists in this bet type, is for punters selling finishing positions. In any other market, the equivalent would be the buy. Quite simply, this is because punters seek to limit their potential payouts, if it all fails.
Be careful of the 18 hole match spreads, simply because one round can be very unpredictable. You will find many more random, and inexplicable results, in the 18 hole match spread, than in the 72 hole match spreads.
Depending on the profile of the golf tournament, you will be offered a number of further betting spread markets for you to consider. One of the benefits of spread betting is the fact that you don’t have to pick the winner to collect! It is a great bet type to target those players, who are very consistent with regular top 10 or top 20 finishes. However, generally depending on the spread, if your player finishes in the top 20, you will be making money. The closer to first he gets, the more money you will make.
As this form of betting can be quite risky, I would recommend only those punters, who have a solid grasp on the mechanics of spread betting to venture into this bet type. If you do not know exactly what you are doing, then honestly, I would suggest that you stay out, or alternatively, study the spread markets. There are a number of excellent publications explaining spread betting here Spread Betting Publications
Miscellaneous Bet Types
By no means have we provided a conclusive list of bet types. Bookmakers are very creative these days in creating golf bet types to tempt punters to their businesses. There is opportunity in ALL bet types. However, some are more open and conducive to profitable betting than others.
A small sample of further bet types include, betting players to simply make the cut, betting the best Australian, European or US player in a tournament, betting if there will be a hole-in-one during the tournament, and betting on a player to be the first round leader.
Wrapping Up the Golf Betting Series
That brings us to the close of this five part series on golf betting. I believe anyone who is willing to put in a little work, and follow a few of the guidelines listed in this series of articles, will stand a great chance of success.
Indeed, golf is one of my most profitable betting sports. As mentioned, aside from predicting accurately which players will perform above market expectations, you also need to be able to manage you bankroll intelligently. You can be the best golf handicapper in the world, but if you are trying to hit the 21.0, 31.0, 51.0 and even 201.0 chances every week, with only one or two selections per week, then you have very little (probably more like zero) chance of making a reasonable sum of money over the long-term. Look for options to increase your chances of striking winners on a regular basis, whether that be by ‘dutch’ betting in the race, or through careful selection of bet types (that is, 72 player match-ups for example).
One thing is for sure though, you have no shortage of betting opportunities with the golf. You have two main tournaments played each week, with many different bet types available in each event, to sift through to find the value. Do not bet, unless you are confident that you have a good bet on your hands.